The arrests of three men in July by Watseka Police has led to indictments. The Iroquois County grand jury (Wednesday) is holding the suspects responsible for robbing two women who were making a night deposit at a local bank.
19-year-old Keenon Baker was arrested July 18 in the bank's parking lot. A week later, Watseka Police followed up on the investigation arresting 20-year-old Cody Hartlep and 23-year-old Lawrence Hemp Jr. All three face an aggravated robbery charge. State's Attorney Jim Devine said a pellet gun was used in the robbery. The felony charge could lead to a prison term of up to 15 years.
Illinois Governor. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 1588 Wednesday, informally known as "Perry's Law." It makes it much more difficult to prey on the elderly.
The new law surfaces from a case in Iroquois County. And the name, "Perry's Law," has everything to do with 82-year-old Perry Bitzel. The dementia patient lives at the Gilman Healthcare Center. He became a fraud victim when his grandson, who became Bitzel;s legal guardian, allegedly cleaned out Bitzel's bank account. Two houses owned by Bitzel were also sold.
Perry's law now allows victims who have been exploited to seek retribution through Civil Court action.
The victim or the victim's family can pursue a civil case. That's even if no criminal charges have been filed.
No charges have been filed against the grandson, but another grandson—Shawn Bitzel of Crescent City--- worked with his cousin, Susan Wynn Bence to get lawmakers attention. Susan Bence works for Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.
Representative Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, and Senator Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington wrote the new law. Perry and his family along with staff members of the Gilman Healthcare Center were in Springfield to witness the bill's signing.
Seventeen-year-old Veronica Inglis was crowned Queen of the Gladiolus Festival in Momence last evening. Ten-year-old Alexis Lehning was cowned Princess to get the 2015 Glad Festival underway. The five-day celebration continues with a Kid's Parade at 6:30 pm today.
The princess and queen coronation were held at the Momence High School football field. Veronica is the daughter of Jack & Mlelissa Inglis. Alexis is a 5th grader and the daughter of Tom & Sissi Lehning.
The Glad fest theme is remembering the old businesses of the "Old Bordertown."
Friday offers the Old Car Parade at 5:30 p. followed by the Main Street parade at 6 pm. The Grand Street Parade steps off at 3 pm Saturday. Several other activities include the carnival, live music entertainment, car show and flea market, and the flower exhibit at the Graham House Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are likely to be conducting flood damage assessments in Watseka tomorrow (Thurs). Preliminary damage assessments will be compiled. It's another step toward the effort to bring federal help following the flooding in June and July.
Watseka Mayor Bob Harwood says "this is not a guarantee federal help will result, but it's what we wanted --- to get FEMA here to take a look."
FEMA, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and local personnel will be properly identified when they arrive at people's homes to do preliminary damage assessments as a result of the flood.
The assessments are another step in determining whether there will be any assistance for individuals.
Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti made a stop in Watseka (Tues), praising the local response.......
"I'm here to assess damage and just thank everyone for coming together with that Midwest spirit of rebuilding and working together as a team," Sanguinetti said.
Governor Bruce Rauner (Monday) issued a Disaster Proclamation for 23 counties, including Iroquois, Grundy and Vermilion. Rauner requested assistance from FEMA to gather damage assessment details.
The City of Watseka, meanwhile, is conducting its own damage assessment of individual homes for compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program. Most homes will be inspected individually.
A crash between a car and a semi Tuesday afternoon left one person dead near Cullom. The victim hasn't yet been identified. Livingston County Coroner Mike Burke said an autopsy will be completed.
The victim was driving eastbound on Route 116 in Sullivan Township. The car collided with a westbound semi tractor pulling a flatbed trailer near County Road 3100E. Cullom Fire, Saunemin Fire, Cullom EMS, Duffy Ambulance, IDOT and Sheriff's Police all assisted.
Sheriff's Police, Illinois State Police and the Coroner's Office are investigating.